Westwater Advocates has been awarded 25 individual recommendations in 10 categories in the newly published 2018 edition of the Chambers Directory.
On learning of the latest endorsements in the authoritative annual review Clerk Sheila Westwater said, “We strive to provide the most suitable counsel for any given case and it is very pleasing to hear the positive feedback from our valued instructing agents which the rigorous research from Chambers has borne out. In addition to the well-deserved individual rankings I am delighted to see that the stable has been ranked at the Band 1 level in three of our core practice areas: Agriculture & Rural Affairs, Employment and Family law.”
The full rankings of the stable are as follows:
AGRICULTURE & RURAL AFFAIRS – BAND 1
Westwater Advocates is a leading stable in Scotland, and has several practitioners who handle agricultural matters. Its advocates are regularly instructed in agricultural property cases and crofting matters, including landlord and tenant disputes, and boundary disputes. They also have experience in renewable energy projects. The advocates often appear before the Scottish Land Court, as well as the Sheriff Courts and the Lands Tribunal for Scotland.
Client service: The “efficient” clerking team is led by Sheila Westwater and she is assisted by Christina Ballantyne and Jane Morrison.
Sir Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw Bt QC – Star Individual – Exceptionally well-known and highly respected silk with a wealth of experience in agricultural and rural law matters. His practice includes crofting matters, conveyancing issues, renewable energy work, European law issues and tenancy disputes. Strengths: “He has a tremendous reputation for agricultural tenancy work, which is built up over many years. He has a persuasive style and he has the ear of the court – because he’s such a frequent practitioner in the Land Court, they respect him. And that’s not to say they will always agree with him, but they will take whatever he says seriously.” “He’s got the kind of experience that practitioners can only dream of – it allows him to have almost a cheeky approach. He will cut through your best arguments with a smile on his face and a wee chuckle.” Recent work: Acted in MacGillivray v Crofting Commission, a case concerning an appeal against a refused application for de-crofting for the purposes of house building.
Neil MacDougall – Band 2 – Acts for clients in a mixture of commercial law, employment law and agricultural law matters. He draws on his previous experience as a commercial property solicitor in agricultural and rural property cases, and has appeared before the Scottish Land Court and the Lands Tribunal for Scotland, as well as the ECJ. Strengths: “He has a very clear and detailed mind, and great analysis at understanding the problem. His commercial background is very good because farming is in fact a business, so there are lots of commercial issues in relation to that.”
COMMERCIAL DISPUTE RESOLUTION
Nick Ellis QC – Band 1 – Possesses broad commercial expertise incorporating professional negligence and media. He is particularly sought after for complex construction disputes. Sources recognise his pragmatism, commerciality and thoroughness, while also noting the high esteem in which he is held by the Bench.
Strengths: “His softly spoken manner belies a very sharp intellect. He has the ear of the court and his arguments command respect.”
Calum H S MacNeill QC – Band 3 – Holds recognised expertise in clinical negligence and employment issues, alongside pure commercial matters. He regularly acts for clients in mediation and adjudications in relation to high-value contractual disputes. Strengths: “He has a really good manner with clients and he’s good at understanding where they are coming from. He’s a lovely chap but he has an inner steel.” “He’s extremely capable and easy to work with.” Recent work: Advised Lightways Construction on the remuneration provisions of a street lighting maintenance contract.
Nick Ellis QC – Band 2 – Highly esteemed advocate whose experience in construction disputes is extensive. He demonstrates notable skill in complex contractual matters and in cases that overlap with professional negligence. Strengths: “Very thorough, incredibly commercial and pragmatic.” “A construction specialist who has much respect at the Bar and the ear of the court.”
EMPLOYMENT – BAND 1
Westwater Advocates enjoys a reputation as the leading stable for employment law in Scotland. It handles all manner of employment cases including unfair dismissals, breaches of contract and discrimination claims. Members act for both claimants and defendants, and represent employers in the public and private sector. Recent cases handled by the advocates include GMB Claimants v Glasgow City Council, a series of several hundred union-backed equal pay claims, and Darren Khan v Stripestar Ltd, an appeal to EAT involving a novel point of law on whether a dismissing manager’s bad faith can be attributed to the employer at an internal appeal.
Client service: “The clerks are very helpful, always ready to find a solution, very responsive, with great communication and no unnecessary delay. They always have a very positive attitude there.” “Principal clerk Sheila Westwater is extremely approachable and accommodating; very facilitating, and very friendly and efficient.”
Calum H S MacNeill QC – Band 1 – An experienced practitioner instructed in all aspects of employment law, with expertise handling complex restrictive covenant and unfair dismissal claims, as well as equal pay and discrimination cases. He has represented clients in courts across the land, ranging from employment tribunals to complex cases in the Supreme Court. Strengths: “Meticulous in his attention to detail, well prepared, methodical and good under pressure.” “Unflappable, thorough and very calm. He has a very clear delivery, very good attention to detail and always a fast response.” Recent work: Acted for the claimant in McBride v Scottish Police Authority, a successful appeal to the UK Supreme Court on behalf of a fingerprint officer who was dismissed following a high-profile alleged misidentification.
Alice Stobart – Band 1 – Provides expert advice across the whole range of employment issues, with added strength in professional discipline matters. She regularly handles complex discrimination issues including those relating to ageism and sexism, and she is adept at supporting clients with difficult cases of unfair and constructive dismissal. Strengths: “Knowledgeable, calm, considered and commercial in her advice.” “She’s very good at breaking things down quickly and picking up important bits of law and making it easy to follow and understand.”
Recent work: Successfully defended the respondent in Sommerville v Imperial Tobacco Ltd, an unfair dismissal claim in which the claimant argued that he had made a mistake in filling in sales forms and had not deliberately falsified them.
David Hay – Band 2 – Regularly represents individuals, large organisations and local authorities across the whole range of employment law. His particular areas of interest include holiday pay issues, discrimination law and working time regulations.
Strengths: “Calm, clever and has the ear of the court.” “Methodical and confident.” “Responsive, approachable and knowledgeable.” “I recommend him because of his intellect and his attention to detail. He’s very personable.”
Ken McGuire – Band 2 – An advocate with experience across the whole range of employment law, with particular strengths in discrimination and equal pay issues. He regularly represents clients in both employment tribunals and the Court of Session.
Strengths: “Able to identify the legal and factual issues quickly.” “Very thoughtful, very courteous and very thorough.”
FAMILY LAW – BAND 1
Westwater Advocates is widely regarded as the “go-to stable” in Scotland for family law. Its specialist advocates take on a diverse set of instructions, ranging from complex financial remedy and children matters to cohabitation claims. The stable is renowned for handling cross-border cases, such as Hague Convention and child abduction matters, and is frequently singled out for its wide range of advocates. Sources note that, “because of the range of expertise and skill set there, we can always find somebody that matches our needs.”
Client service: “The clerks’ services are excellent. They are helpful and get back to us quickly. If we have any queries, we can always get hold of one of them.” Sheila Westwater serves as the stable’s principal clerk.
Janys M Scott QC – Star Individual – Firmly established as a leading advocate and has acted in some of Scotland’s most significant cases. Her remit spans high-value financial provisions in addition to complex child law cases. Strengths: “Janys has an encyclopedic knowledge of family law and is always very well prepared for court hearings and consultations. She has the ability to inspire confidence in both clients and her instructing agents.” “There is no doubt that she is the first port of call for anything novel or significant. You would want her on your team.”
Lynda J Brabender QC – New Silk – Widely respected as one of the leading juniors for high-stakes family cases involving divorce and children. She is known for her ability to negotiate complex financial provisions, predominantly in the Court of Session. Strengths: “Lynda is a pleasure to instruct due to her sparkling wit and, more importantly, her eye for detail and pragmatism. Her preparation of cases is meticulous.” “She is fantastic on her feet. When she represents you in court, the judge listens to her. She has lovely manners with clients and is able to put them at ease.”
Ruth Innes – Star Individual – A former family solicitor who is an authority on financial provision cases arising out of divorce. Her varied experience also spans cohabitation disputes, adoption, child abductions and relocations, including cross-border work to do with the Hague Convention. Strengths: “Brilliant in court. She is meticulous in preparation and good at analysing complicated financial data and seeing the bigger picture. She also has a lovely manner.” “Ruth stands head and shoulders above her peers. She puts clients at ease and clearly has the respect of the court. She is an incredibly safe pair of hands.”
Recent work: Acting for the husband pursuer in an action for financial provision on divorce. The main issue was whether farmland was matrimonial property or partnership property.
Robert Hayhow – Band 1 – A heavyweight in the field of financial provision who is also experienced in child relocation and abduction cases. Interviewees praise his reassuring, client-friendly manner and passionate advocacy. Strengths: “Robert is excellent in court, very robust and adept at thinking on his feet. He is also easy to deal with and has an excellent manner with clients.” “He is knowledgeable and approachable.”
Kirsty Malcolm – Band 1 – An expert in cohabitation disputes who is well versed in handling complex, high-value divorce proceedings. She is also noted for her skilled handling of child abductions, relocations and contact disputes and has seen an increase in cross-border matrimonial cases. Strengths: “Kirsty is very approachable and thorough and relates well to clients.” “Kirsty is a very experienced advocate and previously worked as a solicitor in private practice. We can be certain she will conduct matters skillfully and diligently.” “Her written opinions are concise, clear and to the point.” Recent work: Acted for the pursuer husband in divorce proceedings, seeking to secure jurisdiction in Scotland in direct competition to proceedings in England, where a divorce application and an application for ancillary orders had been commenced.
John Speir – Band 1 – An experienced advocate who is also an accredited family arbitrator and mediator. He offers a broad range of skills and experience, with some of his most impressive cases focusing on cohabitation disputes and financial provisions. Strengths: “He has a very sound grasp of the law. He is very quick in thinking and comes up with unorthodox arguments. He is very well liked by clients and they are well reassured by him.” “He is a very persuasive advocate, and especially skilled in cross-examination.”
Alison Wild – Band 2 – A former solicitor whose practice at the Bar focuses on highly contentious children and divorce cases. These often involve complex medical and financial issues. Strengths: “Alison is very thorough, very reliable and generous with her support.” “She is terrific to work with, very pleasant and clients like her.”
Isabella Ennis – Band 3 – Maintains a broad focus, acting in cases concerning children law and matrimonial finance. She is respected for her expertise in repatriation and compulsory care proceedings, where she acts for local authorities and parents. Strengths: “She is personable, thorough and always well prepared.” “She has child law expertise and is the counsel of choice for many international child law cases, for example under the Hague Convention. She is well regarded by judges.”
Mary Loudon – Band 3 – A family law specialist who has previous experience as a solicitor and mediator. She handles cohabitation disputes and high-value divorce proceedings, and is also able to take on adoption and child abduction cases. Strengths: “She is very sensible and always good to deal with.”
Scott McAlpine – Band 3 – A leading junior advocate for both children and financial cases. He offers especially deep knowledge of cases concerning international relocation, adoption and cohabitation law. Strengths: “Sensible, thorough and knowledgeable, with a personality appreciated by clients.” “He is hugely clever. He has inside-out knowledge of all sorts of things, such as EU jurisdiction. He is always well prepared and has been a massive support to clients as he is caring and empathetic.”
Rachel Shewan – Band 3 – A former solicitor who since having been called to the Bar in 2014 has garnered praise for her expansive family law practice. She offers notable expertise in child relocation, abduction, adoption and contact disputes. She is also experienced in handling cohabitation and divorce cases with large sums of money at stake. Strengths: “Rachel has been great. She is sensible and knows the law very well. She is extremely thorough in her preparation and a real joy to work with.” “She is easy to deal with and clear in her advice.”
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Gavin Anderson – Band 1 – Has an impressive portfolio of health and safety defence work. He is especially adept at proceedings arising out of serious injuries or fatalities in the workplace; other recent mandates include deaths in care homes and product safety. Strengths: “Hard-working, thorough and approachable.” Recent work: Defended Diamond Wheels in a prosecution concerning a workplace fatality involving dangerous chemicals.
Greg Cunningham – Band 1 – Enjoys a wide practice which encompasses employment and professional negligence aspects of pensions law. He frequently handles Ombudsman cases and is knowledgeable in Local Government Pension Schemes. He acts for trustees, local authorities and corporates. Strengths: “He has excellent breadth of vision.”
PLANNING AND ENVIRONMENT
Sir Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw Bt QC – Band 1 – Known for his impressive experience acting on behalf of objectors, many of whom are NGOs or concerned individuals. He is frequently instructed in planning disputes concerning wind farms and renewable energy projects. He is also very well regarded for his complementary expertise in agricultural law. Strengths: “Outstanding in all matters relating to rural land planning and environmental law. He is highly knowledgeable, highly experienced and great to work with.” Recent work: Acted for the appellant in Douglas v Perth & Kinross Council, a judicial review challenging the grant of planning permission for a wind farm.
Scott McAlpine – Band 1 – Leading junior who predominantly handles complex cases involving teachers through all disciplinary stages. His expertise ranges from the Fitness to Teach Panel to the Outer and Inner House of the Court of Session. Strengths: “He has an impressive ability to communicate successfully with clients in an informal yet effective way, and his advocacy skills are also excellent.” “He has an enthusiasm and ability to deal with novel and difficult problems.” Recent work: Acted in a judicial review to the Court of Session against the decision of the GTCS to refer a complaint to its Fitness to Teach Panel for a full hearing. This was the first judicial review of this kind in Scotland in relation to professional regulation.
REAL ESTATE LITIGATION
Nick Ellis QC – Band 2 – Further details will follow once they are available.